Is It OK to Leave the Scene of a Greensboro Car Crash?

In Personal Injury by GWAO

Normally, you cannot leave the scene of a Greensboro Car Crash, but there are exceptions…

North Carolina General Statue 20-166 is pretty clear that a person should not leave the scene of an accident:  The statue states, in part that:

(a) The driver of any vehicle who knows or reasonably should know: (1) That the vehicle which he or she is operating is involved in a crash; and (2) That the crash has resulted in serious bodily injury, as defined in G.S. 14-32.4, or death to any person; shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash. The driver shall remain with the vehicle at the scene of the crash until a law-enforcement officer completes the investigation of the crash or authorizes the driver to leave and the vehicle to be removed, unless remaining at the scene places the driver or others at significant risk of injury.

However, a recent case in the North Carolina Court of Appeals, State v. Scaturro created an exception that would apply in Greensboro Car Accidents as well.  In the Scaturro case, the Defendant was so concerned that the victim might die or be seriously injured that he rushed the victim of the North Carolina bicycle accident to the hospital.  Subsequently, he was charged with a Class One Misdemeanor and was convicted at trial.

The Court of Appeals found that the trial court erred.

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They found that there should not have been a conviction, explaining:  “taking a seriously injured individual to the hospital to receive medical treatment is not prohibited . . .  in the event that such assistance is reasonable under the circumstances.” The court noticed that violation of the rule in G.S. 20-166(b) to provide assistance that is reasonable is itself a Class One Misdemeanor.

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The court of appeals ruled that the trial court’s jury instruction was incorrect as G.S. 20-166(a) penalizes only willful violations of the statute. To be a willful act made by a defendant, an act must be intentional and without justification or excuse (both, actually).

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The court explained that a defendant might leave the scene of an accident on purpose, but still not intentionally (i.e. willfully) violate G.S. 20-166(a) if the departure was justified.

Contact our Greensboro Car Accident Lawyers today if you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident or suffered a personal injury in Greensboro, High Point or Asheboro.